Family adventures

A date with the ducks

It’s all too easy to get stuck inside now autumn has arrived and temperatures are dropping, but Sonny’s still enjoying his outdoor adventures as much as he ever has done.

This afternoon, while I was sitting on the sofa happily watching the football, I glanced at Sonny and realised he was bored. I’m not totally sure how a baby can look visibly bored, but he was pulling it off very effectively. He wasn’t moaning, or crying, or even looking particularly happy, he just looked like he needed some excitement. It was a bit cold outside, with daylight already starting to fade from the sky, but he had a look on his face that said something like “Come on dad, get off your arse and entertain me”.

Ten minutes later he was bundled up in his pram and heading for the river. It’s easy to forget when you’re a cynical grown-up, but even the most obvious and mundane sources of enjoyment for us mean everything to our kids, especially when they’re experiencing them for the very first time. Over the past few weeks Sonny has certainly become more aware of the world around him. He’s always been obsessed with trees and clouds, but he’s now started noticing slightly more more subtle things like the growl of a car engine or the tweet of a bird. There was only thing for it – we were off to feed the ducks.

We stopped off in St Ives town centre to buy some bird food from Thorntons (daylight robbery at £1 for about 30 pieces) then settled down by the river for the avian onslaught. The Old Riverport in St Ives is a wonderful place to feed the birds, firstly because you can get very close to the river using the broad stone steps on the quayside, but mostly because there are hundreds of the feathery buggers. Maybe even thousands. Within seconds we were surrounded by ducks, swans, black-headed gulls, pigeons, and what felt like every other species within a half-mile radius.

They dive-bombed us from above, pecked at our toes, hissed and honked at each other, and looked prepared to battle to the death for each scrap of food. Ever since someone once told me a swan could break your arm with its neck I’ve always been wary of them, but Sonny didn’t care. He just sat on my knee, with a little half-smile on his chubby face, transfixed by the whole scene. He didn’t yelp or scream with excitement like I thought he might, or cry or look afraid at the feathery melee surrounding him, he just looked happy to be there. Like he always does whenever we take him somewhere different and show him something new.

Another day out, another first-time experience, and another wonderful memory with my infant son. Being a dad is so cool.

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